Magazine | March 20, 2017, Issue


(Reuters photo: Carlos Barria)

TO: News/Reporting Staff

FROM: Editorial Staff

IN RE: Guidelines for the next four years

To all journalistic and support staff:

The next four years are going to be a challenging and exciting time for our profession. We in the Editorial and Management departments are enthusiastic about the opportunities that lie ahead.

For that reason, we’re circulating these brief guidelines and policies to help shape your reporting as we enter a new political era. This is by no means comprehensive, but it provides some key directions for the language we’ll be using and the focus we’re bringing to the next four years.

Please note that this Memorandum replaces the previous Memorandum dated November 2012. That one should be removed from its frame above your cubicle and replaced with this one.

Key changes:

Words and phrases to avoid: drone, executive privilege, partisan scandal, obstructionist Congress, economic growth, and Iran.

Words and phrases to utilize more frequently: stagnation, left the work force, deficit, civilian casualties, independent prosecutor, and golf.

Areas we’d like to see more fully explored: homelessness, family disintegration, stubborn unemployment, inner-city crime, and government overreach.

Areas we believe have been adequately covered and need no further treatment: Arab Spring, Planned Parenthood, and cash-for-clunkers.

General notes:

In foreign affairs, we’d like to see some more coverage of the nascent anti-American attitude bubbling up in European capitals and the Arab world. In addition, we’d like to see more coverage of street demonstrations, graffiti, and other artifacts of anti-American and anti-Trump sentiment that will probably happen or start happening soon. We’d like more reporting on these events. When we say “more,” we mean “any.” And just because none of these things have happened yet is no reason not to cover them fully.

In domestic affairs, it’s important to remember that almost any hard-to-read scrawl on the side of a wall is probably some form of hate message. Bear in mind our current stylebook as regards these events: One to three documented cases of racially tinged action (mean tweet, bigoted voicemail, tone of voice) are described as a “sharp uptick” in “potentially violent hate crimes.” Greater than three discrete events within a 14-day period should be described as a “hate epidemic.” One or fewer events can be characterized as indicating that bigotry is “sweeping the nation.” See your specific department editor if you have any questions.

When covering political events or the president, please be aware that it’s no longer a firing offense to describe his leisure travel as “vacation,” nor is it any longer required that a round of golf be contextualized in a racial or sympathetic way. The president’s children are no longer “gifted” and “insightful” and “possessed of a rare and appealing ability to spar good-naturedly with their patient and brilliant father.” In addition, the first lady of the United States is no longer required to be described as an “icon” and a “political and social force in her own right.”

Please also note that the constitutionally designated business of the legislative branch of government is once again to serve as a useful check on the powers of the executive branch, and it is no longer a subversion of the Founders’ will to obstruct, oppose, and otherwise deny the president the unfettered ability to enact his agenda.

And before we forget: The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution is now fully operative again.

In cultural arenas, our feature editors are asked to make certain that each recipe column, special-interest section, dance-recital review, and daily word puzzle has a clearly stated perspective on the current president. Our readers expect — and deserve — to find clever and insightful glancing references to the president, his family, his hairstyle, and his immigration policies (such as they are) in every movie review and/or television listing.

The creative force behind the HBO series Girls is to remain a ubiquitous media and high-culture touchstone and should be mentioned in every piece we print, if possible.

Also: Anyone currently on staff with close or nearly close relatives in the states of Ohio, West Virginia, or Kentucky or in what is currently called the “Rust Belt,” please report to Editorial for instructions on how to begin your new monthly column titled “Heartland Voices.” In addition: We are offering a substantial financial incentive for anyone on the reporting staff to begin the process of becoming a “trans” person. Very interested in developing that.

These are, of course, just guidelines, and we will amend them from time to time as events warrant. In the meantime, remember: Our job is to pursue the truth wherever we find it and in whatever shape it’s in, fix it up a bit, maybe do a small amount of cosmetic work on it, and then decide whether our audience can handle it. It’s a sacred trust! Onward!

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners

City Desk

A City of Shopkeepers

The city is full of walk-in businesses — shops, stores, eateries, bars, banks, fix-it places. That means the streets are full of business names. Many belong to chains — Victoria’s ...


Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ We’re told the envelope given to Warren Beatty actually contained Nate Silver’s projection. ‐ To replace Michael Flynn as national-security adviser, Donald Trump selected someone uniquely suited for the position. ...
Politics & Policy


GLOUCESTER Lizard-voiced, the seagull, esurient And flush with light, cuts through sapphire and salt Waves, to gratify pure appetite. Granite endures like graves. Briars bloom. On planks and shelves, books dock like sailing ships And wait ...
Politics & Policy


Pain and Punishment Psychiatrist Sally Satel’s piece “Treating Opioid Addiction” (March 6) favors “benign paternalism” in public policy regarding what some have hysterically called an “epidemic” but Dr. Satel more soberly ...

Most Popular

White House

More Evidence the Guardrails Are Gone

At the end of last month, just as the news of the Ukraine scandal started dominating the news cycle, I argued that we're seeing evidence that the guardrails that staff had placed around Donald Trump's worst instincts were in the process of breaking down. When Trump's staff was at its best, it was possible to draw ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren Is Not Honest

If you want to run for office, political consultants will hammer away at one point: Tell stories. People respond to stories. We’ve been a story-telling species since our fur-clad ancestors gathered around campfires. Don’t cite statistics. No one can remember statistics. Make it human. Make it relatable. ... Read More
National Review


Today is my last day at National Review. It's an incredibly bittersweet moment. While I've only worked full-time since May, 2015, I've contributed posts and pieces for over fifteen years. NR was the first national platform to publish my work, and now -- thousands of posts and more than a million words later -- I ... Read More
Economy & Business

Andrew Yang, Snake Oil Salesman

Andrew Yang, the tech entrepreneur and gadfly, has definitely cleared the bar for a successful cause candidate. Not only has he exceeded expectations for his polling and fundraising, not only has he developed a cult following, not only has he got people talking about his signature idea, the universal basic ... Read More

Is America Becoming Sinicized?

A little over 40 years ago, Chinese Communist strongman and reformer Deng Xiaoping began 15 years of sweeping economic reforms. They were designed to end the disastrous, even murderous planned economy of Mao Zedong, who died in 1976. The results of Deng’s revolution astonished the world. In four decades, ... Read More